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When To Use Paper Gaskets: Dos & Don’ts


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Gaskets, also known as O-rings or washers, are small yet powerful components that seal gaps between two surfaces. Without them, engines would leak, electrical systems would short circuit, and pipelines would leak harmful chemicals into the environment.

While we usually think of gaskets being made of rubber or silicone, paper gaskets play a crucial role in a wide range of industries, offering a unique combination of flexibility, durability, and cost-effectiveness that can be ideal for specific commercial applications. They’re instrumental in situations in which tight sealing performance is necessary, but the operational pressures and temperatures are moderate.

Sur-Seal is a leader in custom-cut paper, film, and foil gaskets for companies nationwide. Our paper gaskets are designed to meet your exact specifications and requirements, ensuring your business has the cost-effective, unique solutions it requires! Our team is ready to guide you on which paper gaskets will help improve your operations without breaking the bank.

What Is a Paper Gasket?

Gaskets can be metallic, non-metallic, and semi-metallic. Paper gaskets, sometimes called gasket sheets or gasket paper, aren’t actually made of the “paper” used for books, newspapers, and office supplies. Instead, they’re large pieces of sheeting made from compressed cellulose or a blend of fibrous materials engineered to withstand chemical exposure and slight temperature variances. Valued for their ability to conform to uneven surfaces, they offer a precise fit that prevents leaks, even in less-than-ideal conditions.

When Should I Use a Paper Gasket? Applications & Scenarios

Paper gaskets are best used in applications where compatibility with operating conditions is crucial. Typical scenarios for using these gaskets include moderate temperatures, low to medium pressures, and where the fluid being sealed does not aggressively deteriorate paper. They excel at sealing parts in residential and light industrial machinery, making them ideal for applications like automotive oil pans, water pumps, and fuel pumps.

Paper gaskets are not suitable for high-temperature or high-pressure environments or where exposure to harsh chemicals or solvents would compromise their integrity.

Common Mistakes With Paper Gaskets

Even minor errors can compromise the integrity of a paper gasket’s seal, leading to costly repairs and downtime. Proper installation and maintenance help avoid leaks or gasket failure. Typical errors include:

  1. Over-tightened bolts can crush the gasket, leading to deformation and potential leaks.
  2. Reusing old gaskets results in a poor seal and leaks.
  3. Improper storage that results in brittleness or damage. Paper gaskets should always be stored flat in a dry, cool place.
  4. Using the wrong size or type of paper gasket can negatively impact optimal performance.
  5. Inadequate surface preparation can prevent a proper seal. Surfaces should be clean and smooth before gasket installation.
  6. Ignoring the manufacturer’s instructions can lead to improper installation, as each type of gasket has specific installation requirements that must be followed for best results.

Best Practices for Installation & Maintenance

When a gasket fails, the high pressure it’s under means a small leak can quickly turn into an expensive and dangerous failure. It’s vital to ensure that the paper gaskets you choose are designed for the job you have in mind.

Follow these best practices to ensure optimal sealing performance from paper gaskets and maximize their efficacy and lifespan:

  1. Choose a paper gasket material that’s suitable for the application in terms of fluid compatibility, temperature, and pressure.
  2. Properly prepare the surface by removing old gasket material, oil, dirt, or corrosion.
  3. Check for correct sizing and choose a gasket that fits the mating surfaces precisely.
  4. Evenly tighten bolts to ensure even pressure distribution across the gasket. However, avoid over-tightening, which can compromise gasket integrity and functionality.
  5. Ensure the sealed parts are correctly aligned to avoid stressing the gasket unevenly.
  6. Conduct regular maintenance checks after installation and during regular maintenance intervals to ensure there are no leaks or signs of degradation.

Choose Sur-Seal for Gasket Services

Industries across the U.S. have trusted Sur-Seal since 1940. Our expert knowledge of gasket materials and applications ensures your business achieves optimal performance and reliability in sealing solutions.

Contact Sur-Seal to learn more about paper gaskets or to discuss a project with our team.

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